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How do you share the joy and share the pain?

A thread has popped up over on about setting up user groups in schools … quite a step forward to have more input into how IT is set up at your school, but it is more than just about sharing a few ideas.

This isn’t too disimilar to one of the learning conversations at TeachMeet Midlands really. I put forward a few suggestions and requirements for this and will expand this a bit more.

  1. It has to have the backing and support of your SLT. It may have been your idea, a department idea or their idea … whatever way there needs to be backing and support from SLT.
  2. It has to have some defined goals, preferably some that tie into your schools’ development plan, is part of student voice and you have SLT backing that decisions / recommendations made by the group will be seriously considered. 
  3. It needs to be tied into staff CPD to ensure that it is not just an elite few who benefit from it. The idea is that IT/ICT is a tool, so you need to work out how to get as many people using the tools and resources as possible. This means sharing by a variety of methods. It could be formal training sessions, it could be just-in-time training via video tutorial, it could be cascaded good practice within departments … the wider the range the more likely you will get uptake.
  4. There needs to be a good cross-section taking part in these types of groups … not just the ICT elite … get more mid-range users involved too. Enthusiasm will often be more important than ability, but it is also handy to work with ‘realists’ (not pessimists) who can be critical friends.
  5. Do not get disheartened if for every 10 ideas the group has only 1 gets used … it will grow over time. Eventually, you might be lucky enough to have a 50% development rate. Having good examples of who the ideas were used elsewhere can help.
  6. Make sure that although only a few people will attend as representatives of the large school community, the conversations / discussions / presentations / videos / software is available to as many people as possible. It is an important factor that all feel included and helps with continuity planning for the group, people will move on, members will run out of ideas or take on other groups and tasks, new or existing staff also need a chance to have their input too.

There are a number of other things that could be put into this list and feel free to suggest more links and examples, this is not a definitive list of things to do, just a starting point.

There is more work to be done on suggesting *how* student voice can have an input in to user groups … I would be interested in hearing of examples.

4 replies on “How do you share the joy and share the pain?”

It’d be interesting to know just how you go about getting people to want to be involved in such groups.

I recently approached my manager about setting up an ICT steering group of sorts, involving various people from across the school – teachers, SEN, admin and SMT. I was categorically told that no-one would want to involve themselves in it, which thinking about it, is probably true.

How do I go about getting people to realise the benefits of a group discussing the IT provision, IT policy and other related things?

It is pretty difficult to implement FITS without a few other people involved, for example how do I go about setting SLAs when no-one else will give me any input?

For FITS you need to help people understand what you are doing and communication is the key here.

An SLA can be a bit daunting for some staff so you can slowly introduce the idea by creating a service catalogue. A simple booklet outlining all the IT facilities you have, some basic information about how to use them, FAQs and also what people can expect as a response rate from you.

If you write it to start with and people don’t like it then you have an opening. If they do like it then you can ask for suggestions to improve it. Be open with people and be approachable.

It may be that the group is a small one consisting of you, a member of senior management, and ICT teacher and someone enthusiastic from another department, but once results are seen it will grow.

The other option is that it is a group that *has* to have representation from each department or faculty and that has to come from senior management. Other barriers you will come across are apathy, disappointment after the group reaches too high too quickly, internal politics and poor structure.

There are a number of elements of FITS that you can put into place without buy-in from others, areas such as patch management / release management … most elements of change management … again, communicate the reasons why you are doing this and also point out that it is based on industry standards and introduce accountability.

Keep me up to date with how it goes, happy to chat through things more.

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